Shootings have claimed lives and headlines in recent months, stoking a fire of debate over guns across America. One Bainbridge Island councilwoman is bringing the issue close to home.
A resolution drafted by Bainbridge Island City Councilwoman Kirsten Hytopoulos, if approved by the council, would send a message to federal and state lawmakers that Bainbridge supports reinstatement of the federal assault weapons ban.
The resolution is the strongest stance the city can take. The city cannot enact any laws or bans on Bainbridge Island, as restrictions on firearms are set at the state level.
Hytopoulos introduced the resolution to her fellow council members Wednesday, and said it was in response to the school shooting tragedy in Newtown, Conn.
"We had a couple people contact us after the Connecticut shootings asking if we were going to do anything about it," Hytopoulos said.
After hearing concerns from islanders in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, Hytopoulos suggested to her fellow council members that they make a statement on the issue at an earlier council meeting in December.
The idea got mixed reviews on the dais. Some wondered what the point would be, or what message they would send.
So Hytopoulos spent the next few weeks crafting one.
"I just decided to draft a very reasonable ordinance," she said. "Asking the state and the feds close the loopholes in gun sales."
"I think most people on Bainbridge Island would be behind that," Hytopoulos added.
At the council's meeting this week, Hytopoulos handed out her resolution. She wasn't asking for any comment or vote on it, rather just for the council to consider it.
The resolution takes no action. In fact, as Councilman Bob Scales pointed out Wednesday, the city has not authority to enact any sort of ban or legislation that goes beyond state laws. Instead, it serves to make a statement to lawmakers in Olympia.
The resolution states that the city council supports the reinstatement of the federal assault weapons ban, and that the council supports state and federal legislation mandating criminal background checks for all gun sales.
It also authorizes the city manager to forward the resolution to state and federal lawmakers.
It is similar to resolutions passed in other cities, as Hytopoulos notes, such as New Orleans, La.; Akron, Ohio; Calabasas, Calif.; Ventura, Calif.; Madison, Wis.; Providence, R.I., St. Paul, Minn.; and Montgomery, Ala.
The resolution cites that the 1994 assault weapons ban expired in 2004 and has not been renewed. It also states that since 1999, mass shootings have increased in schools and public places and invokes the names of mass shooting incidents in Aurora, Colo., Newton, Conn., Tucson, Ariz. and Virginia Tech.
Hytopoulos plans to take the issue up again in two weeks after council members have had an opportunity to consider it.